Barcelona go top by thrashing crisis team Atletico Madrid

September 20th, 2009 - 4:27 pm ICT by IANS  

Thierry Henry Madrid, Sep 20 (DPA) Barcelona are top of the Spanish Liga after a 5-2 destruction of crisis team Atletico Madrid.
The star of the show in the exultant Camp Nou was Lionel Messi, who celebrated the extension of his contract until 2016 by scoring two goals in Saturday’s late game.

Josep Guardiola’s defending champ├Čons have nine points from three games, having made a perfect start to the season.

They didn’t play particularly well by their own high standards but were fast and sharp in front of goal, punishing every mistake made by the nervous Atletico defence.

“We were really good in the first half,” said defender Gerard Pique, who admitted that “we lost our rhythm a little bit towards the end.”

Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who has scored in all three of Barca’s league wins, pointed out that “we have more possession and attack more” than Inter Milan, the team he left in July.

Thierry Henry almost opened the scoring in the very first minute when he shot against the Atletico crossbar. But the Barca fans did not have to wait long for the first goal.

In the second minute, Sergio Busquets played through Ibrahimovic and the Swedish striker made it 1-0 with a clever flick of his right foot.

In the 17th minute, Xavi set up Messi to make it 2-0 with one of his inch-perfect through-balls.

The third goal was a blasted free-kick from Dani Alves, which Atletico’s shaky debutant keeper Roberto Jimenez should have stopped.

Three minutes before the end of a vibrant first half, Seydou Keita made it 4-0 by turning in a perfect Messi centre.

Sergio Aguero pulled a goal back for Atletico, who are now second from bottom with just one point to their name.

Barca took their foot off the pedal in the second half, and Diego Forlan took advantage to score a second consolation goal. Messi, however, was determined to have the last laugh and made it 5-2 with a low right-foot drive.

Barca are two points ahead of surprise package Mallorca, who moved up to second by thrashing hapless Tenerife 4-0 in Palma.

Mario Suarez opened the scoring for Mallorca in the 17th minute, then Aritz Aduriz made it 2-0 six minutes into the second half.

Julio Alaverez added a handsome third on the hour. Tenerife were reduced to 10 men 15 minutes from time when defender Ezequiel Luna was sent off.

Four minutes from the end, Marc Beltran was also given his marching orders for pulling down Mallorca sub Victor Casadesus in the area. Pierre Webo made it 4-0 from the resultant penalty.

Tenerife, who were promoted in June, have three points from three games. They will need to quickly polish up their defensive work if they intend to stay in the top flight.

Later Saturday, Sevilla moved up to fifth with their second win, 2-0 away to lowly Osasuna, who have just one point.

Sevilla coach Manolo Jimenez rested the in-form Luis Fabiano - and was rewarded with goals by stand-in strikers Alvaro Negredo and Federic Kanoute.

Negredo made it 1-0 in the 37th minute by turning in a centre from Adriano. Twenty minutes from time Kanoute sealed the win by shooting home the second goal, after being set up by the promising Diego Perotti.

Osasuna defender Sergio Fernandez was sent off nine minutes from time for an ugly foul on Perotti.

Saturday also saw first wins for Racing Santander and Espanyol, away to Malaga and Deportivo Coruna.

Santander won 2-1 in Malaga thanks to goals from Manuel Arana and Nasief Maurice, his first for his new club after joining from relegated Huelva in June.

Espanyol, meanwhile, were surprisingly winning 3-2 away to Deportivo Coruna.

“We really needed to win today, after losing our first two games … we played like a real team this evening,” said Espanyol defender Nicolas Pareja.

Jose Callejon gave Espanyol a shock early lead, only for Adrian Lopez to quickly level for the hosts. Juan Forlin restored Espanyol’s lead and Joan Verdu made it 3-1 for Espanyol in the 59th minute.

Lassad Nouioui pulled back a goal for Deportivo 15 minutes from time, but it came too late to save the Galicians from a second defeat.

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